Attorney General Becerra Denounces U.S. Department of Education Proposal Rolling Back Collection of Critical Civil Rights Data
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed a comment letter opposing a U.S. Department of Education (DOE) proposed rule curtailing the collection of critical civil rights data in schools. That data is used by policymakers, researchers, and educators to understand and address disparities in education quality and access. If the proposed rule goes into effect, it will hamper efforts to improve schools across the country and in California where there are more than six million public school students.
“A quality education is one of our best weapons in the fight against inequality,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Without good data on our schools, our efforts to protect children are put at risk. This latest federal proposal has it backwards — it limits transparency and gets in the way of critical work being done to ensure every student has equal access to a good education.”
Since 1968, DOE’s Office of Civil Rights has provided policymakers and advocates with crucial data on education and civil rights issues affecting schools. For instance, information from DOE showing racial disparities in preschool discipline was part of the analysis used in the passage of California Assembly Bill 752 (2017), which placed limits on the expulsion of preschool children. Under the proposed rule, DOE would no longer collect that type of information and much more. In addition to eliminating the collection of certain data, DOE plans to revise how some data is collected, limiting its utility.
The proposal would put at risk data on:
- Teacher experience and absenteeism, which may point to issues around overall school quality;
- Sexual harassment or bullying related to gender identity, which nearly 60 percent of LGBTQ students report experiencing;
- English learners with disabilities, which is used to better understand who qualifies for special education services;
- School financing information identifying funding gaps between schools;
- Advanced placement enrollment for courses other than math, science, or computer science used to assess students’ level of preparedness for college;
- Preschools, which is connected to long-term academic and employment outcomes;
- Credit recovery programs that are often tied to services for youth in juvenile justice facilities; and
- Sexual assault other than rape committed by school staff.
Attorney General Becerra has consistently fought to protect the rights of students in California and across the country. In February, Attorney General Becerra sent a letter to schools throughout the state to remind them of their legal obligations under California law to protect the civil rights of all students. In August, the California Department of Justice reached an agreement with the Sausalito Marin City School District addressing segregation within the district. Earlier this year, Attorney General Becerra also reached an agreement with the Stockton Unified School District to address discriminatory treatment of minority students and students with disabilities. In March of 2018, the California Department of Justice issued guidance to help California’s public schools develop policies to protect the rights of undocumented students.
A copy of the comment letter is available here.